Review: Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer

I received this product for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion or the content of my review.

Review: Spindle Fire by Lexa HillyerSpindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer
Published by HarperCollins on April 11th 2017
Genres: Adaptations, Fairy Tales & Folklore, Family, Fantasy, General, Siblings, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Goodreads
two-stars
Half sisters Isabelle and Aurora are polar opposites: Isabelle is the king's headstrong illegitimate daughter, whose sight was tithed by faeries; Aurora, beautiful and sheltered, was tithed her sense of touch and her voice on the same day. Despite their differences, the sisters have always been extremely close.

And then everything changes, with a single drop of Aurora's blood--and a sleep so deep it cannot be broken.

As the faerie queen and her army of Vultures prepare to march, Isabelle must race to find a prince who can awaken her sister with the kiss of true love and seal their two kingdoms in an alliance against the queen.

Isabelle crosses land and sea; unearthly, thorny vines rise up the palace walls; and whispers of revolt travel in the ashes on the wind. The kingdom falls to ruin under layers of snow. Meanwhile, Aurora wakes up in a strange and enchanted world, where a mysterious hunter may be the secret to her escape . . . or the reason for her to stay.

I was sure I was going to enjoy Spindle Fire based on the pretty cover and the synopsis, but unfortunately, that didn’t hold true.

There were several issues that bugged me when I was reading. First, the writing style was not for me. I’m not familiar with reading present tense in books. Though now I can say I don’t really like it. The writing was poetic, too flowery at times—almost impersonal when important, but bad scenes happened. I couldn’t feel anything for these characters. If another style was used, maybe I could have. Secondly, certain things within the story irked me.

“Really, it had always been her own obedience—her desire to please, to do everything right, to follow instead of lead—that has stopped her from truly living. The thought urges her to kick harder, with more confidence. She is not just swimming toward safety now but away from her former, meeker self” (ARC).

SO, most of you probably won’t be bothered by this. It, however, rubs me the wrong way. What is wrong with being meek and agreeable? NOTHING. My personality is like this and I’ve heard so much crap from people throughout my life that I should be different or like them. You can be strong and courageous and still be meek—and still truly live.

Besides the writing style and that particular thing above, I also thought the extra chapters with the random faerie viewpoints weren’t all that necessary. Only two added anything meaningful.  Overall, besides some minor irritation—I was just bored with Spindle Fire. I will not read the sequel.

 

Review: RoseBlood by A.G. Howard

Review: RoseBlood by A.G. HowardRoseBlood by A. G. Howard
Published by Amulet Books on January 10th 2017
Genres: Adaptations, Europe, Fairy Tales & Folklore, Fantasy, General, People & Places, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 432
Format: Hardcover
Goodreads
two-stars
In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.

I don’t know anything about The Phantom of the Opera, but the kindest thing I could say about Roseblood is that it has inspired me to want to read Leroux’s version despite not being curious enough to care before.

RoseBlood started off okay (more of a meh instead of a wow). I wasn’t hooked on the storyline or as Rune as a main character. She was all right in her good, levelheaded moments (rare as those were), but really bratty and self-centered about a majority of the time. Didn’t see a legitimacy in her friendships or in that cheesy how-is-this-even-romantic romance. And one recurring, annoying aspect in the plot was the usage of ‘gypsy’ in a negative, stereotypical light (“Cursed gypsy blood”).  It was so unnecessary and cheap.

The writing, I thought, was beautiful in the first few chapters. But it became too much. Everything, even the most ordinary things, was described in long over-the-top flowery paragraphs that I just wanted to skip over. I’m almost certain that if all the overwritten fluff was taken out, the book would be half its size and probably more pleasant to read.

The romance was tedious. I didn’t care for Rune and Thorn’s relationship. It all felt very forced and convenient. I’m not saying that I don’t like soul mates or destined lovers, but not like this. It was so cheesy it could make a cheese manufacturer sweat. When I finally reached the ending, I read it with the blankest face ever. It was supposed to be cute and make you feel things—but ehhh. I would have rather seen the two suffer at the hands of the Phantom (what a total pushover he was).

Review: The Falconer by Elizabeth May

Review: The Falconer by Elizabeth MayThe Falconer by Elizabeth May
Published by Chronicle Books LLC on May 6th 2014
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fairy Tales & Folklore, Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic, General, Young Adult, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 288
Format: eBook
Goodreads
three-stars
Edinburgh, 1844. Beautiful Aileana Kameron only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady. In fact, she's spent the year since her mother died developing her ability to sense the presence of Sithichean, a faery race bent on slaughtering humans. She has a secret mission: to destroy the faery who murdered her mother. But when she learns she's a Falconer, the last in a line of female warriors and the sole hope of preventing a powerful faery population from massacring all of humanity, her quest for revenge gets a whole lot more complicated. The first volume of a trilogy from an exciting new voice in young adult fantasy, this electrifying thriller blends romance and action with steampunk technology and Scottish lore in a deliciously addictive read.

Privileged with wealth and beauty, Lady Aileana’s life would look perfect to anyone who didn’t know the circumstances of her mother’s tragic death. Her old self died the same day and ever since then, she trained to become a ruthless killer herself in order to obtain revenge. But it’s never that simple killing an ancient, powerful fairy. Aileana is about to face a challenge so great that survival is not only slim for herself but also for unsuspecting innocents. Using the aid of a mysterious fairy, she’s going to try all she can with one slice of a sword and ingenious invention at a time.

Let’s start with what I did like about The Falconer, first. The writing kept things interesting and I was motivated fairly well to keep turning the pages to find out what was coming next. The cast of characters was also interesting, but my true favorites were Gavin and Derrick. The inventiveness of the storyline was great, although, there were some issues (mainly one issue in particular). I have yet to read very many books involving fairies or the fae (I tried a really popular one, but I just didn’t enjoy it).

The main thing I wasn’t a fan of was the romance. There wasn’t much, but there was a lot of Aileana staring and thinking and pining for Kiaran. He wasn’t that interesting. Kiaran is the typical dark haired, mysterious (aka withholds important information) bad boy. I don’t want them to happen. I much prefer Gavin. But who knows.

Just be prepared for a lot of this:

“As I inhale his scent, I can’t help but shift closer, closing the gap between us and pressing my side to his. The taste of his power only grows more intoxicating. He turns to look at me, and our faces are a mere breath away.”

I don’t know how many times I’ve read about the taste of his power, but come on. Enough of the distraction, there’s a serious situation that should be fully concentrated on.

Aileana is an amazing character, don’t get me wrong. I just really want her to stop being so thirsty for the old as dirt fairy for a good five minutes.

Overall, I did enjoy reading The Falconer and will continue on with book two. I’m just hoping for less of this kind of stuff.

Review: The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson

Review: The Golden Braid by Melanie DickersonThe Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson
Published by Thomas Nelson on November 17th 2015
Genres: Adaptations, Christian, Fairy Tales & Folklore, Fantasy, Love & Romance, Religious, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Goodreads
four-stars
The one who needs rescuing isn't always the one in the tower. Rapunzel can throw a knife better than any man. She paints beautiful flowering vines on the walls of her plaster houses. She sings so sweetly she can coax even a beast to sleep. But there are two things she is afraid her mother might never allow her to do: learn to read and marry. Fiercely devoted to Rapunzel, her mother is suspicious of every man who so much as looks at her daughter and warns her that no man can be trusted. After a young village farmer asks for Rapunzel's hand in marriage, Mother decides to move them once again--this time, to the large city of Hagenheim. The journey proves treacherous, and after being rescued by a knight--Sir Gerek--Rapunzel in turn rescues him farther down the road. As a result, Sir Gerek agrees to repay his debt to Rapunzel by teaching her to read. Could there be more to this knight than his arrogance and desire to marry for riches and position? As Rapunzel acclimates to life in a new city, she uncovers a mystery that will forever change her life.

Rapunzel is a young woman of many talents, but the one thing she cannot do is read. Her mother, Gothel, forbids her daughter from learning and moves them both from village to village in hopes of keeping Rapunzel away from men who may want to steal her away through marriage. Already older than many young brides, Rapunzel wonders if men are as terrible as her mother believes. Soon, however, after being rescued by a knight Rapunzel begins to question her mother’s suffocating influence and finally takes control of her own life.

The Golden Braid is a unique take on the Rapunzel fairytale. While I haven’t read very many Rapunzel retellings, this is one my favorite. Rapunzel has been manipulated and lied to all her life, and when she learns she may not actually be who she thinks she is, Gothel can no longer hold onto her. At least, not without a fight. Strong, brave, and naive because of her sheltered upbringing Rapunzel makes an ideal heroine, and with her hero the knight Sir Gerek, she’s able to reclaim her life and discover what she’s been missing all along. And perhaps even learn to read.

If you enjoy cute, heartwarming fairytales The Golden Braid will not disappoint. On side note, while this is a perfectly good standalone, it wouldn’t hurt to read the five Hagenheim books in this series.

Review: Ruin and Rising

This review will contain spoilers.
Review: Ruin and RisingRuin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Published by Macmillan on June 17th 2014
Genres: Fairy Tales & Folklore, Fantasy & Magic, General, Monsters, Young Adult
Pages: 432
Format: Hardcover
Goodreads
two-stars
The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne. Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army. Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives. Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.  Ruin and Rising is the thrilling final installment in Leigh Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy.

I knew coming into this book that Alina and Mal would be together in the end, as much as I hate them as a couple. I don’t know exactly why I don’t like Mal, but I never disliked a pairing/male lead so much. I just felt like Alina’s entire existence revolved around him. I thought the whole third amplifier thing/coming back to life was cheesy. Their ordinary life together bit made me roll my eyes. All three books just for that? Okay. I feel like I wasted my time. The first book was great, the second was okay, and this one was just /no/.

The Darkling’s demise was coming, I knew. But it was boring and should have been built up more than it was. Badass characters should have badass deaths. His death was the only thing that stirred any kind of emotion besides the cheated feeling I got with Alina and Mal’s ending. I wish there could be a book solely about the Darkling because he’s the only one worth caring about besides Nikolai.

Speaking of Nikolai, he wasn’t well treated in this book. I felt terrible about what he went through. With the darkness still inside him, I wonder how this would affect his life. And I really wish he and Alina would have gotten together. He received the short end of the stick.

At least, thankfully, Mal wasn’t as whiney and controlling like in the last book. Alina made most of her own decisions. That’s all the positives I can think of right now. I’m a little weary of following series now, but I’ll hang in there.